TX Ethics Commission files $10K lawsuit against Dawnna Dukes

Investigations
Dawnna Dukes in the KXAN studio on Oct. 24, 2017_568547

AUSTIN (KXAN) – The Texas Ethics Commission is throwing the book at two people — a former member of the Texas House of Representatives and a man who wanted to be a member of the House. 

The commission filed the lawsuits in Travis County against former House Democrat Dawnna Dukes and Republican candidate Clinton A. Bedsole of Frisco. The commission submitted evidence showing Dukes and Bedsole both failed to file their semi-annual campaign finance reports on time. 

The commission wants the $10,000 in fines, plus “damages of any kind, penalties, costs, expenses, pre-judgment interest, and attorney fees,” according to the Dukes lawsuit. The commission is only asking for “monetary relief of $100,000 or less, and non-monetary relief in the form of a mandatory permanent injunction,” the lawsuit shows.  

KXAN INVESTIGATION: 342 Texas officials, candidates have unpaid ethics fines 
 
The reports were supposed to be turned in on July 16, 2018. Dukes didn’t file her report until nearly six months later and Bedsole never filed his report, according to the ethics commission’s filing. 

Dukes has been on the Ethics Commission’s “Delinquent Filers List” at least since 2017 when a KXAN investigation found Dukes had an unpaid ethics fine of $500 at that time. The fines are assessed when a politician fails to timely file reports showing how they make their money and details about who’s giving them campaign money and how the politician is spending that money. 

KXAN INVESTIGATION: Texas lawmakers, judges, attorneys owe $1.3 million in unpaid ethics fines 

Bedsole lost his bid for the House in the March 2018 primary. 

Dukes and Bedsole are two of 326 people currently on the commission’s debtors list. The latest update to the commission’s list shows five district judges and two current House members owe the state $1.4 million in unpaid ethics fines. 

The current House members are:

  • Rep. Ron Reynolds—who owes the state of Texas more than any other debtor. Reynolds, who had been on the list since at least 2017, currently owes $52,500 in unpaid ethics fines. 
  • Freshman Rep. Erin Zwiener—a Hays County Democrat—owes a $500 unpaid ethics fine, according to commission records. 

READ ALSO: Texas lawmaker with largest ethics fines sent to jail

The latest ethics debtor list shows $2,039,200 owed in unpaid ethics fines from current and former officeholders, candidates, political action committees and lobbyists. 

Neither Dukes nor Bedsole have submitted answers to the Ethics Commission lawsuits as of this report. Messages sent to Dukes, Bedsole and Zwiener were not immediately returned. 

In February 2018, a KXAN investigation into the state’s ethics fine debtors uncovered failures by the Texas Ethics Commission to hold debtors accountable in referring cases for prosecution.

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